Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Corner of White

by Jaclyn Moriarty

I didn't realize this was a YA novel and when I started reading it and discovered its intended audience, I groaned.  I used to enjoy reading YA books every once in awhile, but lately the genre seems filled with vampires, werewolves, and/or otherworldly beings.  The writing is often lackluster.  And the teenage angst wears me out in no time.

Since I had received this book free as a review copy, I decided I needed to give it a fair shake.  I'm so glad I did.  I thought it was delightful.

There are two main characters who are both likeable, confused, searching for their fathers, and who view their worlds in a fresh, unexpected way.

Madeleine has a history of running away from home, but this last time was the worst because her mother ran away with her.  They end up in Cambridge, England.  Even though it's the real world (our world), the view from Madeleine's perspective makes you wonder if it really is.  Madeleine writes to her father hoping he will come rescue them and get her mother the help she needs.

Elliot is also looking for his father who disappeared the night his uncle died and the physics teacher also went missing.  Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello where Colors can be scary.  It is believed that his uncle was killed by Purples, who then took his dad as a prisoner.

Quite by accident, our two main characters discover a way of sending messages back and forth between the two worlds.  It seems unlikely that Madeleine and Elliot will ever be able to understand the content of the other's messages but its these communications that lead to answers for each.   I liked the interplay in the messages between the worlds of the concepts of light, color, rainbows, and Isaac Newton.

The way things came together in the end provided some clarity but also got me excited to read the next book in the trilogy.   I liked how Moriarity created two such different settings for her characters.  Even though, one was the real world, it seemed just a little off kilter and, even though Elliott's world was a fantasy world, it seemed 'real' in many ways.

Even as I pushed forward to the clarity of the ending, I found myself smiling and feeling good as I enjoyed the tone of the book  and the interesting play of ideas.  I know we're not supposed to quote from ARCs but I want to share a couple of places where you can get a sense of these playful ideas.  The first is about Jack who is Madeleine's friend and classmate.
Jack had gathered these names together by the stems; he'd arranged them in a vase which he kept to the right of his mind.  At night, before he fell asleep, he'd breathe in the fragrance of each, the details that Madeleine had shared.
Jack was very interested in astrology and one time asked Madeleine what her star sign was but she heard his question as "What does your star sigh?"
He'd seen how much she liked the idea that she owned a star, and that it sighed; he's seen in her eyes that her mind was rushing through the possible words that it could sigh.
Towards the end of the book, Elliot is summoned before the Princesses of his kingdom.  One of the princesses says to him
You seem a bright boy, so could you just gather your shock and confusion into a little handkerchief size and save it for later?
There were two things I did NOT like because this book is written for 12 year olds and older: 1)  Elliot and his friends jump on a moving train and went into a neighboring territory where it was legal to buy beer at age 16, 2) the mention of sex between more than 2 people.  I thought both of these were out-of-line and not necessary to the story.  I am appalled at how casually multiple-partnered sex is thrown into television as run-of-the-mill, normal, everyday stuff (I'm talking about a recent episode of Psych) and then to run across it in this YA book, sickened me.  Totally uncalled for and not necessary!

The Corner of White will be in bookstores on April 2.  I loved it and can't wait to hear your thoughts about it.  I received this book from NetGalley  and Scholastic Books in hopes that I would read it and give it an honest review.

1 comment:

jenclair said...

This books sounds good, and I do enjoy YA books. I also dislike the inclusion of casual sex and multiple partners and am surprised at how often it is included in YA fiction (well, most fiction)when it is unnecessary and often intrusive.